The automotive market is getting flooded with the hybrid cars. These cars make use of two or more power sources; like an internal combustion engine as well as an electric motor. Some cars in the market are just hybrids – such as Toyota’s Prius line while others are variants of conventional vehicles that have a gas-electric powertrain to supplement e.g. the hybrid versions of Ford Fusion or Honda Accord.
In their user principle the hybrid is just like any other car. So, if you know how to drive a regular car, you can drive a hybrid car easily. Let’s have a look at the variants and types of hybrid cars in the market today.
This uses the oldest hybrid technology. Initially, it was used on diesel-electric locomotives and ships. The series hybrid has powerful electric motors only to power the wheels. There is however one combustion engine in the series hybrid. This engine powers a generator, which in turn, powers the motors.
These are quite simple and inexpensive to manufacture. The parallel hybrid mixes the power outputs from the engine and the motor together. The combustion engine has an upper hand in propelling the vehicle. The electric motor provides an extra boost and drives the car for shorter distances. Interestingly, there are versions such as Civic Hybrid, in which the only source of charging the battery is the regenerative braking system.
This type is a confluence of the engine and the electric motor that powers into the transmission through different paths. This gives the driver the option of a standalone power source between the engine and electricity. In the parallel system, the motor-generator may either supplement the engine’s output or bring about battery charging through the regenerative braking system.
The plug-in hybrid is not a category of Hybrids; rather, it has a larger battery that allows the electric driving distance to go up as compared to a couple of miles that the regular hybrids offer. This means that all short distances can be covered in the electric drive mode. This version also offers an option where the car can be charged through power outlet and an electric cord.
“Mini” Hybrids: The mini hybrid concept simply means that there will be some assistance during the start and stop mode of the drive. In the absence of fully powered motors, this car can be run on relatively cheaper nickel-metal hydride batteries. Developed by the General Motors, this system is also known as eAssist, and first showed up in the Buick LaCrosse.
Mild Hybrids: A mild hybrid’s electric motor is not powered enough to drive the car alone for more than a few meters. The car is mostly driven by a combustion engine, which is supplemented by the electric motor. The supplement happens when extra power is required by the car. The Honda Civic Hybrid is a good Mild Hybrid.
Strong Hybrids: A strong hybrid could be a parallel, series or both combined. They have electric motors that are quite powerful and deliver a lot of power together with powerful batteries. So, the motor provides an all-electric running mode, plus a stop-start function. They also feature regenerative braking and gas engine assist.
The first Hybrid was delivered in the form of Toyota Prius and it remains the best in the market. Using Hybrid cars also result in considerable fuel savings. Hybrid cars are definitely here to stay but many people believe that they are an intermediate step towards adoption of purely electric cars.